Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

March 21st, 2017  Posted at   Super-Hearing

As part of Super-Hearing, I want to trace how the Superman radio show was promoted in comic books. Less than a month and a half after it debuted, the serial got its first mention in the medium that launched the character on the popular Superman of America page in ACTION COMICS #24. The text, written as though penned by Superman himself, encourages readers to not just listen to the show, but to encourage their local stations to air the program if they aren’t already.

Supermen of America page from ACTION COMICS #24

It also refers to a list of stations currently airing the show in various markets across the United States. This list was included in a half-page ad on following page of the comic. Similar ads were run in Superman-related comics for the next couple years, so we’ll be able to somewhat chart the growth of the show through these ads.

Supermen radio ad from ACTION COMICS #24

H-O Oats, manufactured by Hecker’s Oat Cereal, was an early sponsor for the show in many markets, particularly on the East Coast of the U.S. The ad also makes it clear the transcribed show aired on different days in different markets. Airdates used for Super-Hearing are based on those researched by Michael J. Hayde for his book, “Flights of Fantasy.”

December 21st, 2015  Posted at   Supergirl Mondays

Supergirl MondaysSupergirl Mondays is a weekly celebration of the Girl of Steel, who has graced the pages of DC Comics in a variety of forms for more than five decades.

This feature’s primary focus is to take an issue-by-issue look back at Supergirl’s adventures in the post-Crisis universe. From an artificial being on a mission to save her home world, to an Earth-born angel on a mission to save her soul, each Monday, before the airing of “Supergirl” on CBS, reflect on the earliest days of the incredible and winding journey of a frequently divisive, sometimes confusing, but always entertaining era for the Maid of Might.


In this issue

Superman (Vol. 2) #22

Issue: SUPERMAN (Vol. 2) #22
Cover date: October 198
Cover price: 75 cents ($1 Can./50p U.K.)
Cover by John Byrne
Story: “The Price”

Credits

John Byrne, story and art
John Costanza, lettering
Petra Scotese, coloring
Renée Wittestaetter, assistant editor
Mike Carlin, editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Overview

As Supergirl, Superman and the Pocket Universe Lex Luthor begin their final confrontation with the General Zod, Quex-Ul and Faora, the Phantom Zone criminals strike back, destroying the Smallville fortress and killing the remaining members of the resistance. Outraged, Supergirl attacks Zod and Faora, but is hit with a double blast of heat vision.

Attacked! (Part 1)  Attacked! (Part 2)

Superman is in shock, but Luthor tells him not to worry about Supergirl because “the protomatter will regenerate itself soon enough.” With no time explain, Luthor sends Superman to the site of Superboy’s former laboratory on a mission to find the one thing that can stop the rogue Kryptonians.

After a brutal fight with Quex-Ul, Superman finds the object of his search: a canister containing Gold Kryptonite. He then uses that to remove the powers of the three Kryptonians and trap them in a makeshift prison made from the remnants of the underground lab before finding Luthor, who has been fatally injured.

The death of Lex

Turning his attention back to the Phantom Zone criminals, Superman speaks of the heinousness of their acts. As the last representative of right on that world, he tells them he has no choice but to act as judge, jury and excutioner, and exposes them to a lethal dose of Green Kryptonite.

With sadness over his own actions in addition to the tragedy upon tragedy that has occurred, Superman buries the bodies of Zod, Quex-Ul and Faora on the barren remains of the Pocket Universe Earth before returning to the Kent farm with Supergirl in his arms.

Supergirl left with the Kents

With Supergirl in good care and much on his mind after what has transpired, Superman flies away with a heavy heart and much to ponder.

Thoughts

Of the three issues that make up “The Supergirl Saga,” Supergirl’s part of in this one is smallest all of them as she is taken out of action quite early, and in a fashion that is quite brutal. But, I try to temper my disappointment (and, to a degree, dissatisfaction) with that by remembering, as I’ve said, that this is a Superman story.’ Much like those original interludes that introduced Supergirl in short, one- or two-page bursts, Supergirl’s story continues to unfold as a supporting character in the various Super-titles.

But, here, we get final answers — or at least more complete ones — about this new Supergirl’s origin: A new lifeform based on a previous person but literally a blank slate. In many ways, a very meta approach to rebooting the character. This is Supergirl, but not the Supergirl we know. She’s one who hearkens back to the past but leaves the door open for new and even better and more wondrous tales.

Superman leaving the injured Supergirl in the care of Kents (and, to an extent, Lana) shows now only the great amount of trust he has in his adoptive parents, but it also shows the optimistic and hopeful side of Superman. Yes, this Supergirl attacked him, the Kents and even Lana, but as Superman says, she did so out of fear — not malice. Unlike the Phantom Zone criminals that ultimately caused her creation, Supergirl, while perhaps prone to act impulsively or on rash instinct (as seen in attacking the Kents or, in this issue, Zod and Faora), isn’t intrinsically evil and deserves a second chance.

And much like Superman, she is the last survivor of her world — her universe, even. This creates a strong kinship between her and the Man of Steel that, in theory, could supersede any blood kinship the pre-Crisis versions of the characters shared.

Next time on Supergirl Monday: Who’s who’s Supergirl!

December 14th, 2015  Posted at   Supergirl Mondays

Supergirl MondaysSupergirl Mondays is a weekly celebration of the Girl of Steel, who has graced the pages of DC Comics in a variety of forms for more than five decades.

This feature’s primary focus is to take an issue-by-issue look back at Supergirl’s adventures in the post-Crisis universe. From an artificial being on a mission to save her home world, to an Earth-born angel on a mission to save her soul, each Monday, before the airing of “Supergirl” on CBS, reflect on the earliest days of the incredible and winding journey of a frequently divisive, sometimes confusing, but always entertaining era for the Maid of Might.


In this issue

Adventures of Superman #444

Issue: ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #444
Cover date: September 1988
Cover price: 75 cents ($1 Can./40p U.K.)
Cover by Jerry Ordway
Story: “Parallel Lives Meet at Infinity …”

Credits

John Byrne, scripter/co-plotter
Jerry Ordway, penciller/co-plotter
Dennis Janke, inker
Albert DeGuzman, letterer
Petra Scotese, colorist
Renée Witterstaetter, assistant editor
Mike Carlin, editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Overview

While Superman mourns the deaths of the Pocket Universe’s Jonathan and Martha Kent, that universe’s Lex Luthor and Pete Ross fill in the Man of Steel on what happened to their now war-ravaged world. In the aftermath of Superboy’s disappearance (during the Pocket Universe saga), Lex set out to find out what happened to him. Upon discovering Superboy’s secret lab, Lex was tricked into releasing from the Phantom Zone a trio of Kryptonian criminals (General Zod, Faora and Quex-Ul), who proceeded to destroy the lab and the Phantom Zone projector before going on a global rampage destroying anything and anyone in their way.

As part of his newly formed resistance, Lex devised a way to give the Pocket Universe’s Lana Lang super-powers. She adopted a costume like that of Superboy, as well as the name “Supergirl,” and became a rallying symbol for the people of Earth in the fight against the rogue Kryptonians. But, the resistance served only to infuriate the Kryptonians, who responded by burning away the planet’s atmosphere, killing everyone except a small band of fighters inside Lex’s citadel.

Discovering the existence of Superman, Lex devised a way to send Supergirl to his universe in an attempt to recruit him to help.

Supergirl's mission begins

Caught up to speed, Superman vows to join the Supergirl, Lex and the rest of the resistance in order to end the Phantom Zone criminals’ reign of terror.

Thoughts

Honestly, there’s very little specific Supergirl content here. However, we must remember that despite being referred to as “The Supergirl Saga,” this is, first and foremost, a Superman story. And while perhaps not specifically Supergirl, this issue does detail much of the Pocket Universe’s story which, as detailed, led to the creation of Supergirl and thus — like the entire storyline — remains key in the foundation of this new Supergirl’s backstory, addressing and answering many of the mysteries presented in the preceding six months.

Not much is added to Supergirl’s character or personality here, though I did appreciate her adopting the costume as a way of becoming a rallying point for the resistance, which is something that pays as much tribute to Superman’s (or, in this case, Superboy’s) legacy as Supergirl herself.

Fans talk back

With the letters column addressing ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #440 (see Supergirl Monday #2), the second interlude featuring the new Supergirl, more writers addressed the character’s return, including this impassioned letter from writer Thomas Romano of Houston, Texas.

Letter from Thomas Romano

But wait, there’s more

And end-of-issue blurb and the letters page chatter both plug the conclusion of the story in SUPERMAN #22, though neither give much indication of Supergirl’s role.

SUPERMAN #22 blurb from ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #444

SUPERMAN #22 chatter from ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #444

Next time on Supergirl Monday: Unhappy endings!

December 7th, 2015  Posted at   Supergirl Mondays

Supergirl MondaysSupergirl Mondays is a weekly celebration of the Girl of Steel, who has graced the pages of DC Comics in a variety of forms for more than five decades.

This feature’s primary focus is to take an issue-by-issue look back at Supergirl’s adventures in the post-Crisis universe. From an artificial being on a mission to save her home world, to an Earth-born angel on a mission to save her soul, each Monday, before the airing of “Supergirl” on CBS, reflect on the earliest days of the incredible and winding journey of a frequently divisive, sometimes confusing, but always entertaining era for the Maid of Might.


In this issue

Superman (Vol. 2) #21

Issue: SUPERMAN (Vol. 2) #21
Cover date: September 1988
Cover price: 75 cents ($1 Can./40p U.K.)
Cover by John Byrne
Story: “You Can’t Go Home Again”

Credits

Story and pencils: John Byrne
Inks: John Beatty
Colors: Petra Scotese
Letters: John Costanza
Mike Carlin, editor
Renée Witterstaeter, asst. editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Overview

A group of people in battlesuits withstand a barrage on their high-tech fortress, the only thing left standing on the ravaged landscape of their world, as they watch on viewscreens as Superman soars through the sky. Suspecting he’s being followed, Superman doubles back and is surprised when he catches his pursuer.

Supergirl revealed

The woman again identifies herself as Supergirl, further shocking Superman by shifting her likeness into that of Lana Lang and saying she got her powers from Lex Luthor.

Confusion reigns, and the exchange begins to grow heated, resulting in Supergirl hitting Superman with a telekinetic blast before turning invisible and attacking again, knocking him deep into the ground near the Lang home. Superman digs up through the cellar and finds Jonathan and Martha Kent, as well as the real Lana Lang, tied and gagged. Superman makes a realization about Supergirl and flies her to see Lex Luthor.

Supergirl is astounded that Luthor is so unlike the Luthor she knows. This leads Superman to later explain that he believes she is from the Pocket Universe (a dimension created by the Time Trapper, and encountered by Superman about a year prior, publishing-wise). As Superman explains and Supergirl’s memories begin to return in full, a teleportation field takes them to the Phantom Zone, where they are greeted by the red-haired, battlesuit-clad figure from the beginning of the issue.

'Welcome to the end of the world.'

Thoughts

This issue is part one of the three-issue story known as “The Supergirl Saga” (not an official part of the story’s title, but called as such on the covers of the first two issues). It’s also the final three stories in Byrne’s classic run on Superman, which rebooted the character in the post-Crisis era, starting with MAN OF STEEL.

But, we’re here to talk about Supergirl.

This is the character’s most extensive appearance to date, yet the mystery surrounding the character and her origins continue to build despite actually being somewhat more defined with the revelation that she comes from the Pocket Universe. Taking this tack is, perhaps, the first in a long line of missteps leading to the character’s eventual somewhat confusing backstory. But without the 20/20 hindsight of history, it was an inventive approach that allowed for the creation of a new Supergirl that paid homage to the past but still kept the “uniqueness” of Superman, which DC Editorial at the time wished to retain. (It also allowed them to hedge their bets should the character not have been popular, because a Supergirl from an alternate dimension would be easier to take off the table than on from “this” dimension.)

Regardless of where she comes from, though, one thing is pretty clear: She’s not Kryptonian. Her powers are full display here, as she exhibits the ability to fly, change her appearance at will, turn invisible and fire off telekinetic blasts strong enough to knock Superman into the ground. Her strength an durability aren’t clear because Superman never goes on the offensive, but she seems more than able to hold her own.

Other mysteries remain as well, such as why she was buried in the arctic ice for centuries, as well as, newly surfaced this issue, what happened to the Pocket Universe since it last made an appearance, and what that has to do with Supergirl’s mission she spoke of in previous issues.

Art-wise, while a strong outing, internal inconsistencies remain, particularly in regards to the coloring. Supergirl is portrayed as a redhead in some panels and a blonde an others. Some of that is intentional as she shape-shifts her appearance to that of Lana Lang, but other seem illogical given the storyflow.

And, hey! The new Supergirl gets her first cover appearance with this issue. Well, her legs are there, anyway. But, it’s the closest thing the character will get to a proper cover appearance until 1992!

Historical footnote

The panel where Superman first comes face-to-face with Supergirl (seen above) is an homage — all the way down to the dialogue — to the Curt Swan-penciled and Al Plastino-inked cover to ACTION COMICS #252, which was the first appearance of Kara Zor-El.

Action Comics #252

Fans talk back

This issue was the first to feature reader response to the one-panel appearance of Supergirl in SUPERMAN #16 (see Supergirl Monday #1). While letters printed in comics are chosen by editorial and might not be a true representation of fan response, letters printed in this issue do seem overwhelmingly excited about the prospect of the character’s return.

While in the future I’ll be looking only at letters of note commenting on Supergirl’s story, due to the historical importance of the issue they’re replying to in this issue, here’s a look at the letter pages in full.

Superman (Vol. 2) #21 letters page 1  Superman (Vol. 2) #21 letters page 2

And as an additional note, Paul Anthony Lhossas, if you’re reading, I’m not sure if you were serious about that “55-page treatise,” but if you were, I’d love to read it.

But wait, there’s more

The blurb at the end of the story and next-issue chatter at the end of the letters column (both seen above) both give a preview of ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #444, which is part 2 of “The Supergirl Saga.” The latter also includes a sneak peak at the Supergirl-less cover art.

DC also sought to promote “The Supergirl Saga,” and the return of the character in general, outside the comics. Here’s a look at a poster, with art by John Byrne, released to comics retailers to promote “The Supergirl Saga.”

Supergirl promotional poster by John Byrne

Next time on Supergirl Monday: Exposition. Lots of exposition.

November 30th, 2015  Posted at   Supergirl Mondays

Supergirl MondaysSupergirl Mondays is a weekly celebration of the Girl of Steel, who has graced the pages of DC Comics in a variety of forms for more than five decades.

This feature’s primary focus is to take an issue-by-issue look back at Supergirl’s adventures in the post-Crisis universe. From an artificial being on a mission to save her home world, to an Earth-born angel on a mission to save her soul, each Monday, before the airing of “Supergirl” on CBS, reflect on the earliest days of the incredible and winding journey of a frequently divisive, sometimes confusing, but always entertaining era for the Maid of Might.


This time out, we will be looking at two issues: DOOM PATROL #10 and SUPERMAN (Vol. 2) #20. The Doom Patrol issue, which features the first appearance (kind of) of the mysterious new Supergirl outside the pages of the Superman titles, was published the same week as ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #442 (see Supergirl Monday 5). However, because the Doom Patrol issue takes place between the panels of SUPERMAN #20, and because it adds little to Supergirl’s story as a whole (and what it does add is meaningless without the context of the SUPERMAN issue), we’ll be looking at both issues together.

In these issues

Doom Patrol #10  Superman (Vol. 2) #20

Issue: DOOM PATROL #10
Cover date: July 1988
Cover price: 75 cents ($1 Can./40p U.K.)
Cover by Erik Larsen and Jerry Ordway
Story: “The Soul of the Machine”

Issue: SUPERMAN (Vol. 2) #20
Cover date: August 1988
Cover price: 75 cents ($1 Can./40p U.K.)
Cover by John Byrne
Story: “Doom in the Heartland!”

Credits

DOOM PATROL #10
Paul Kupperberg, writer
Erik Larsen, penciller
Gary Martin, inker
J. Giels Workman, letterer
Tom Ziuko, colorist
Robert Greenberger, editor

SUPERMAN (Vol. 2) #20
John Byrne, story and pencils
Karl Kesel and Byrne, inks
John Costanza, lettering
Petra Scotese, coloring
Renée Witterstaetter, assistant editing
Michael Carlin, editing
Paul Kupperberg, kibitzing
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Overview

Beginning in SUPERMAN, all parties are surprised when Lana Lang arrives at the Smallville farm of Jonathan and Martha Kent with the mysterious woman calling herself Supergirl in tow. The Kents are amazed seeing a young woman in a Superman-like costume able to lift a truck, while Supergirl is taken aback at the very sight of Jonathan and Martha, believing they were dead. As fragmented memories continue to swirl in her mind, Supergirl’s eyes go white as she ominously determines to get to the bottom of things.

A short time later, Superman arrives in Smallville for a pre-arranged picnic lunch with Lana.

Over to DOOM PATROL #10, Clark and Lana begin their date, but Clark’s super-hearing picks up a radio report of the Doom Patrol mixing it up with Metallo and flies off to help.

Back to SUPERMAN (Vol. 2) #20, Lana, still at the picnic spot, listens to radio reports of Superman becoming involved in the fight as it through Kansas City. Hearing that the battle isn’t going as well as Superman had hoped, “Lana” makes a startling transformation.

Startling transformation

Shortly, however, the combined efforts of Superman and the Doom Patrol are able to stop Metallo’s rampage without intervention by — or even knowledge of — the new Supergirl, who flies nearby, keeping tabs on the Man of Steel, as he flies back toward Smallville for a little R&R.

Thoughts

Though more pages and spread across two issues, this is essentially another vignette furthering Supergirl’s story, but largely unconnected from the main story of the issue. The biggest revelation here, though, is that the new Supergirl also possesses some type of shape-shifting ability, having impersonated Lana during the picnic date with Clark.

Though that also ties one of the biggest puzzles presented these issues: How did Clark — with his super-senses — not recognize this wasn’t Lana?

There’s a bit of a leap, for those not reading DOOM PATROL #10, about how Superman became involved in the battle between the Doom Patrol and Metallo. To its credit, an editor’s footnote in the issue does make it very clear that DOOM PATROL #10 takes place between two specific panels of the SUPERMAN issue. But still, for readers of only the latter, it would’ve been nice to provide a little more set-up for the transition.

I did appreciate, though, that all the elements of the Supergirl mystery were kept contained in the SUPERMAN issue, which helped prevent confusion for DOOM PATROL readers who chose to not pick up the SUPERMAN issue. They’d still lack a resolution of the conflict with Metallo, but weren’t dragged into the beginning of a confusing mystery. Reading only DOOM PATROL #10, there’s no indication there is anything more to Superman’s picnic date with Lana than a way to bring him in to the story.

Also, it appears the coloring issues from SUPERMAN #19 (see Supergirl Monday 4) have resurfaced, as in the final panel for SUPERMAN #20, as her blue leggings and red hair have returned. Given the shape-shifting ability revealed this issue, is it possible Supergirl is changing her appearance? Or are these actually coloring mistakes not caught by the editor?

Whichever is true, one thing is clear: A collision between Superman and this mysterious new Supergirl is imminent!

Historical footnote

While not a factor in the Supergirl subplot, DOOM PATROL #10 features the first post-Crisis appearance of Reactron, a villain created by that issue’s writer, Paul Kupperberg, in a trio of Supergirl stories from 1983! The character also was re-imagined in “Fight or Flight,” the third episode from the first season of TV’s “Supergirl!”

Upcoming

A blurb at the end of the story promotes a big reveal to come next issue:

SUPERMAN #21 blurb from SUPERMAN #20

As does the next-issue chatter at the end of the letters column:

SUPERMAN #21 chatter from SUPERMAN #20

But wait, there’s more

Despite containing no Supergirl content in the story itself, the next issue-blurb at the end of the letters column in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #443 (cover date August 1988) also promoted the upcoming Supergirl-centric story.

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #443 next-issue chatter

Next time on Supergirl Monday: The ‘Saga’ begins!